Words and photographs by Martin Emmett
CFCC had entered a team of four for the Golf Croquet Tournament at Rother Valley on Saturday 25th September, hoping to emulate, or even improve on, the club’s excellent Runner Up position in the Association Croquet competition at the same venue the previous day.
After a very scenic car journey through the South Downs, Sally, Joyce, Lynne and myself arrived early at Duncton Croquet Club and managed to get some practice time in on the half courts. As we did so we noticed that the balls left pronounced (and surprisingly curved) trails in the heavy dew as they travelled over the grass of the courts. These conditions were not helped by the low cloud that largely obscured the Downs, although the temperature was quite mild for a late September morning.
As well as Duncton and ourselves, Lodsworth had entered a team and in the absence of Worthing, West Chiltington had an A and a B team. After the briefing, Joyce and I were soon into our first games and before long we had managed to obtain one win, which was nearly two but Joyce unluckily missed out in a Golden Hoop game. Then it was down to Lynne and Sally to continue and again they also found themselves in close battles, including Lynne’s match which finished in a draw.
This was to be an omen as Lynne continued to have close battles throughout the day. As the competition continued the low cloud got worse and we experienced a light drizzle. Wins became difficult to achieve but most games were very tight, and on one occasion as the 40-minute whistle blew Sally and her opponent had only completed 6 hoops. I had enjoyed watching this tense tactical battle which Sally was unfortunate to lose 4-2.
As lunch approached the cloud started to lift and the sun appeared; and so did the Downs to provide a beautiful backdrop to the scene. Many people had paid £5 to enjoy all day coffee and tea and biscuits and cakes, which seemed to be money well spent. The people hosting and other players were all very friendly and their clubhouse was impressive – as was Duncton Village Hall which I visited during the break.
We continued into the afternoon, but unfortunately we didn’t often get the wins we were hoping for, but once again the games were enjoyable, often close and against friendly opponents. On one occasion I managed to achieve a successful jump shot, only to be told Iha I had played the wrong ball – but I still managed to win that hoop although I lost the match overall, the score standing at 6-3 as the whistle blew. Later Sally managed a terrific jump shot to rescue a hoop that looked lost and Joyce was set to take one of her matches to a Golden Hoop when her opponent hit a fortunate long range shot to take the point – and win the contest as a result.
So, in conclusion, we didn’t do as well as our Association Croquet colleagues the previous day, but congratulations to the winners from West Chiltington. Despite missing out on an overall win, we had a really enjoyable time in pleasant company and in picturesque surroundings as the 2021 croquet season sadly comes to its conclusion.